Bishops' Conference of Scotland

5 St. Vincent Place, Glasgow GI 2DH
Peter Kearney M.A. (Mons)

T 0141 221 1168 F 0141 204 2458 W E mail


Sunday, 4 May 2008
(to be read out at Masses on 3 & 4 May)

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The theme of this year's World Communications Day - "The Media: At the Crossroads between Self-Promotion and Service. Searching for the Truth-in order to Share it with Others" - highlights the important role of the media in like life of individuals and society. As the Pope says in his message this year; "there is no area of human experience, especially given the vast phenomenon of globalization, in which the media have not become an integral part of interpersonal relations and of social, economic, political and religious development."

The mass media today is pervasive, persuasive and all too often invasive.

Pope Benedict rightly acknowledges the contribution the media can make to the diffusion of news, to knowledge of facts and to the dissemination of information but warns that the mass media can be used for ideological purposes and "can tend to legitimise or impose distorted models of personal, family or social life". As Scottish Catholics we know only too well how true this is and we are keenly aware of how rarely our own media represents us as people of faith in a fair or balanced manner.

Today, mass communications can fairly be Charged with losing the ethical underpinning that once existed. It is a sad reality that those involved in the production and dissemination of much of our media content do not themselves share the religious or moral perspectives of their audience. There has occurred a fundamental disconnection between the provider and the consumer. While the last national census showed that over two-thirds of Scots described themselves as Christians, few of those who work in radio, television and the press share this identity.

How then can they understand what motivates and engages us and provide us, their viewers, listeners and readers with appropriate content? The- Pope suggests we need to introduce "info-ethics", just as we have bioethics in the field of medicine and scientific research.

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Analysing the ethical implications of how information is transmitted would help the media avoid becoming spokespersons for a secular and humanistic agenda. It is crucial that those who work in this field seek to understand the moral and ethical view of humanity shared by those of us who believe in God.

We each have a responsibility to help them in this task. We are all consumers of the mass media and when we are misrepresented or maligned we must speak out, likewise when our values and ideals are represented and respected we must praise and commend.

Nationally this is exactly what our Catholic Media Office through imaginative and ongoing engagement with the media seeks to do. To this end the Scottish Catholic Media Office has created, to coincide with World Communications Day, a new website; it can be viewed at www.scmo.orq.

I would urge you to visit this site, it will allow you to see first hand what the church has said on a wide range of issues, in turn preventing you from being misled by partial or inaccurate media coverage. The new website includes audio clips and video content and includes a facility which allows anyone to subscribe to all media releases simply by entering their email address. Again I would urge you to subscribe in this way to the output of our Media Office.

While the information service provided by the Media Office is free at the point of use, it clearly has to be paid for. With this in mind I appeal to your great generosity in asking you to contribute to today's special communications collection.

Finally, in the words of Pope John Paul II; "Let us ask the Holy Spirit to raise up courageous communicators and authentic witnesses to the truth, faithful to Christ's mandate and enthusiastic for the message of the faith."

Yours devotedly in Christ

Bishop Philip Tartaglia

President, National Communications Commission

God BlessYou!